[Bards] Winterkingdom Bardic Roundtable

Cisco Cividanes engtrktwo at earthlink.net
Sun Dec 10 20:24:43 PST 2006

Here you go, this is my summary of the roundtable discussion that I 
hosted and Moderated. My original notes are available is all their 
unedited and badly typed glory should anyone wish to see them.
I stand by my summary below. However, if I have misquoted anyone, or if 
anyone feels that "THEY" were misrepresented, please contact me and I 
will correct my mistake post-haste. The attendance was modestly sized 
but diverse, with a non-bard invited to the discussion specifically at 
my request. I have combined my typed notes with the outline I did, 
please read below for the outcome.

Thank you, and good luck with the other roundtable.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk

The Round table took place as scheduled held at Northkeep’s 
Winterkingdom event, December 9^th 2006, from 2:30 to 4:20. The stated 
goal was to generate conversation and ideas and NOT to solve problems. 
All attendees were asked to joing the bardic list if they were not 
already on it.

The first order of the discussion was a general talk about the negative 
opinions that are held by some in the north about bards and bardic.

“There are a number of people in the north who consider bard a dirty 
word. In general, these stem from a very negative encounter with one or 
more bards in the past. There IS, however, a very string push towards 
‘sing along’s, such as rounds like those taught by HE Rhiannon Redwulf. 
Even people who openly voice displeasure at having to see bards perform 
openly admit to enjoying a ‘sing along’. A lot of people who enjoy 
singing have either chosen to believe, or been taught by older members 
that group singing is not a bardic activity. In some extreme cases, 
there is an active effort to deliberately _not_ include bards in a sing 

The general reactions to the above statements were pity that bardic was 
seen in such light and inquiry as to how this came to be.

In the discussion that followed it was agreed all around sing along were 
part of a bards domain and that bards should strive to learn and teach 
songs to the masses if they felt so called. It was noted that sing 
alongs are one of the best ways of including non-bards in the bardic 
experience and an excellent way to bring people together.

“A large number of the complaints fielded against bards can be summed up 
as poor etiquette or manors on the part of the performer. Some people do 
NOT like being performed at. Some bards choose inopportune times to try 
and do a solo performance. Many people have voiced displeasure at the 
tendency of some bards to transform a lively group sing into a solo 
performance.-“Attend the bard!” is usually _not_ well received.”

The group whole heartedly and universally express despair that the above 
types of situations should ever have taken place. Count Fin said 
expressly that a Bard should be able to hold an audiences attention by 
power of the performance and a call for silence should NEVER be 
necessary. This was followed soon after by another point from Fin where 
he expressly said that the practice of calling “attend the bard” (ie, 
‘everyone shut up’) should be stamped out completely. Master Cadfin 
added that Bardic performances in some venues (feasts, for example) can 
become too much of a good thing, and that discretion should be used when 
someone wants to perform in a ‘captive audience’ type venue.

Her Excellency Rhiannon Redwulf pointed out that current event sizes and 
locations were not as friendly to bards as were in the early days. 
Larger halls, larger attendance numbers and overall large scale event s 
make performances for feast halls and courts much more difficult. 
Mistress Catrin asked why people don’t just perform for a few tables at 
a time anymore. Lady Aline Swinbrook, also pointed out that people who 
whant to perform in a feast hall should coordinate with the servers if 
only to make sure the servers to stop serving feast unnecessarily.

“It has been stated by veteran members of the society and the Bardic 
community that bardic as of late is not as strong at a kingdom or 
regional level as it was in years past.

The evidence presented: Extremely low turnouts at major bardic 
competitions such as Kingdom bardic. Decreased bardic presence at 
events, such as “fire walks”, “bardic circles” and performances during 

Her Excelency Rhiannon and Master Cadfin pointed out that camping at 
events has declined and that the many of the older events have become so 
over scheduled that between the primary activity and the drive home, 
there isn’t time for bardic for many people. Lady Aline Swinbrook also 
pointed out that the north is really regionalized due to the demographic 
of college students, the effects of gas prices and the economy of just 
day tripping. A lot fewer people even really travel to distant events 
any more (at least from the north).

“As some do believe that bardic is on the decline, it has been suggested 
that a more formalized structure be made available to facilitate 
communication, training, and education within the bardic community. One 
such suggestion was a bardic college that operated independent of the 
royal officers. This college would help to make performance material 
available to bards, and act as a central administrative conduit for the 
organization of bardic activity across the kingdom. The College could be 
(as proposed by some) created totally separate from the existing royal 
structure and therefore answer only to bards.”

The first question asked to the group was: “Do we think that a 
‘top-down’ system would help Bardic in the north and kingdom wide?”

Mistris Catrin said that the idea was not favorable to her way of 
thinking. Master Cadfin said that he was in support of the idea of a 
top-down structure, but totally opposed to any separation from the 
crown. Lord Ivo Blackhawk agreed with this statement. Mistris Catrin 
pointed out that the previous College included an internal ranking 
system similar to a jorneymen, aprentencie… step system seen in modern 
unions. This ranking system was evidently the source of some major 
issues in the past and a modern college, if created, should stay away 
from any internal, independent ranking system. Cadfin Pointed out that 
ranks were irrelevant to current needs, this statement was agreed with 
my most people in attendance.

When asked what the attendees would like to see a college do, the 
following items were mentioned. More arcane material. Teaching. Better 
networking and communication. Teaching of etiquette, and a teaching of 
critiquing techniques to help bards get better. Teaching. More 
nationalities of baric material, teaching, teaching, more subjects made 
available, teaching.It was at this point in the discussion that Cadfin 
put out that while he would like to see a college exist as part of the 
royal structure, it should be insulated for the whims of any one person. 
That is to say if there were a college, it should be run by a deputy to 
the kingdom Minister of A&S, for example. The point to his comment was 
to NOT have the college answered directly to any one person.

“What would you like the college to stay away from?”
Everyone: RANK!!!!!...no further comments.

Would you join and support a college?
All in attendance said no.

Would you wish them well and not join?
All in attendance said yes to this.

Would you ignore them [if you didn’t join]?
All in attendance said yes to this as well.

Would you actively dislike them?
Master Cadfan: And this is a direct quote “This is a Stupid question.” 
The whole audience agreed and said that they didn’t know what to like or 
dislike about a college at this point.

Would you try to prevent them from forming?
None present expressed any interest in fighting the formation of a 
college in any way.

“It has also been pointed out that all of the objectives stated for the 
bardic college can be achieved without an actual college, and without 
the centralized administrative structure. Through computerized 
libraries, more bardic practices and more interaction at a community 
level, many of the goals set forth for the college can be achieved 
without a system. Do we think that a ‘Ground-up’ system would help 
Bardic in the north and kingdom wide?”

Mistriss Catrin stated that we need a club, not a formal unit of some 
sort. Lord Ivo Blackhawk said that the problem should be fixed from the 
grass roots level first, and not the royal level. Cadfin commented that 
we need some organization and it should answer to MOAS. Another deputity 
MOAS officer would serve admin needs. This was NOT, however, a statement 
of a need for a formal college.

This ended the discussion about the College of bards as a topic.

The final topic of the day was a possible course of action to help bards 
deal with some of the hostility they have encountered as of late, and 
possible how to hold bards to a standard of behaviors specific to the 
performing arts. The group was asked if we wanted to look into codifying 
some form of ‘bardic etiquette’. This would not necessarily be any form 
of enforceable laws, but a written set of expectations that lets both 
bards and non bards know what to expect (and not expect) of each other.

Mistress Catrin emphasized that common since had to be applied-these 
would not be absolutes. She then added that performances were getting 
out of hand with hostage audience situation. Cadfin said that bards 
shouldn’t perform at feast with the bidding of the crown or royal reps.

While we did NOT talk about the specific text of such a code of 
etiquette, Master Cadfin did make a statement that the moderator felt 
appropriate to note here”

“The first line on the rules of etiquette should say ‘under no 
circumstances is anyone _required_ to listen to a bardic performance.’” 
[Moderator’s note: I have had my life threatened with less vigor than 
was put into this statement.]

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